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If I Had To Do It Again…

Many of us revisit conflicts and other interactions in our heads – and sometimes many times – wishing we had the opportunity to do it again. Things we said and how we said them often haunt us. Try as we might to learn from these incidents, we might still repeat the same sort of behaviour again, with the same or another person. Indeed, it seems, at times, that our learning is short-lived, but the self-blame lingers on.

When you think about it, once conflicts are over it is difficult to revisit them – to explore and sustain the learning. We are relieved they have ended and just want to move on. However, we are likely destined to repeat things we do not learn from or make the changes that will stand us in better stead for the next conflict.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider the learning from a specific interpersonal conflict when answering the following questions:

  • What was the conflict about?
  • What did you do that you would like to redo?
  • What bothers you most about what you did?
  • What would you have preferred to say or do instead?
  • What might have been different if you had done or said that in that incident?
  • What do you think precluded you from doing so?
  • What is significant about your preferred response that you can remember for the next time you are in conflict?
  • What would it take for you to remember and use that response (your answer to the above question)?
  • What else are you considering as you ponder this different approach?
  • So, if you were to set intentions of how you want to “be” in conflict on an ongoing basis, what would they be?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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People-Pleasing

Would you call yourself a people-pleaser? If so, how does this lead to conflict in your life? If you are not a people-pleaser but find you get irritated with people who are, what specifically triggers you that results in conflict? These are just a few questions to consider with respect to this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog, if you are interested in exploring the concept of people-pleasing.

So, what is people-pleasing all about? This is another query that comes up for reflective people who want to shift their tendency to be so, or to better understand those who seem to spend a lot of energy trying to placate others. The reasons why some people-please may be to avoid conflict, to gain favour (to be liked, respected, needed), to get something, to make up for wrongdoing, or due to guilt – to name a few possibilities.

Where does conflict arise when it comes to this character trait? For some, when provoked by people-pleasers, it’s because it is experienced as disingenuous and phony. Some attribute other things to people-pleasers, such as being insecure and needy and that they must be trying to prove something. Others see people-pleasers as manipulative. As a consequence of these and other reactions to people-pleasing, conflict can ensue. For instance, we don’t know or misinterpret the real reason and react accordingly – leading to conflict. For those who people-please, there might be a tendency to react to direct or indirect criticism and not understand how good intentions, insecurities, reasons, etc. get misread.

Please consider if this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog questions give you more to think about regarding people-pleasing:

  • If you are a people-pleaser, what do you think compels you to be so?
  • If there’s a possibility you fear something, what are you afraid of?
  • How does people-pleasing work for you? What doesn’t work for you about this trait?
  • In what ways has being a people-pleaser led to conflict in your life?
  • Considering one of these conflicts, what is the situation? What would you have preferred to say in that situation that you didn’t?
  • For what reasons didn’t you, in that case?
  • What were the consequences of not saying what you wanted to?
  • Now let’s look at questions if you dislike people-pleasers. If that’s the case, what is it specifically you dislike?
  • What has actually led to a conflict due to your perception and experience of the other person as a people-pleaser?
  • What reason(s) might the person trying to please give you that would have made you less reactive?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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Paying Forward Conflict Lessons

For this week’s blog I am bringing back one that was popular a couple of years ago. So, this one is from the archives (originally posted November 22, 2016):

One day the man said to his long-time mentor, “Thank you for listening to me and my side of our dispute and for disagreeing with me in the gracious way you did. I am humbled”.

“You have shared your truth and I needed to know that, too”, the mentor replied.

The man went on and extended an apology saying, “I also appreciate you let me know how hurtful my perspective was for you and for some things I said – and I am sorry for that”.

“And I appreciate that you have now learned to acknowledge that it’s okay to have different views on matters that are important to each of us”, the mentor responded.

The man hugged his mentor and said, “Yes, I have learned so much from you about disputing and I will now pay that forward by remaining calm and respectful with others, and by listening as carefully and thoughtfully as you. But, I do have a final question. How did you remain so calm and respectful when I was being hurtful? You didn’t get angry at me”. The mentor answered, “I said to myself, at these times, that you must have deep pain in your heart to want to hurt someone who cares about you.  I felt sadness for you – not anger towards you”.

  • What is the moral of this parable for you?
  • What emotions, if any, did the story raise in you?
  • What didn’t resonate for you in this parable, if anything. Why was that do you think?
  • In the end, what lessons did the man learn from his mentor?
  • Which lesson or lessons might you want to also learn about conflict that this story raises for you?
  • What characteristics of the mentor do you most want to emulate? What characteristics of the man do you most want to emulate?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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Regrets from Conflict

For this week’s blog I am bringing back one that was popular a couple of years ago. So, this one is from the archives (originally posted May 17, 2016):

After an interpersonal conflict is over – or, ostensibly over – it is not unusual to carry around ongoing regrets. We may regret what we said or didn’t say; we may regret giving in; we may regret prolonging the conflict; we may regret how we acted; we may regret the loss of the relationship or resulting changes in how we relate now.

It isn’t always the case, though it often happens, that regrets linger long after our other emotions about the conflict dissipate. They remain as a heavy weight that holds us down – making it difficult to move on.

If you are carrying some regrets about a conflict, the following questions will hopefully help you unpack them.

  • What was the conflict about?
  • What do you regret about what you said or did, or didn’t say or do in that conflict?
  • What specifically lingers on for you?
  • How has that (your answer to the previous question) had an impact on the relationship with the other person?
  • What 3 words describe the lasting impact on you?
  • What 3 words do you want to replace the above 3 words (your answer to the previous question)?
  • What don’t you regret about the conflict?
  • If you didn’t carry around the regrets anymore, how would that change the relationship?
  • What other changes would there be if you stop carrying around the regrets anymore?
  • What did you learn about yourself in the conflict that will help you manage future interpersonal conflicts more effectively?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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Values Conflict

For this week’s blog I am bringing back one that was popular a couple of years ago. So, this one is from the archives (originally posted November 29, 2016):

It is common to attribute the term ‘values conflict’ as the reason for dissension between us and another person and we may say such conflicts are not resolvable. That’s true for some disputes, but I don’t believe all, and this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog is about the sorts of differences that may seem irreconcilable.

In some research I did over 15 years ago, study group members identified that when they are provoked by something another person says or does they perceive a value, need or aspect of their identity is being undermined or threatened. The participants didn’t use those words per se but it was evident by the language they used that they felt that one or more of these aspects of their being was being challenged, and they reacted accordingly. As part of the research and ultimately, the development of the CINERGY® conflict management coaching model, the study group members also explored what aspects of the other person’s being they themselves might be challenging. Checking out the possible attributions – and assumptions being made – helped them (and continues to help my coaching clients) gain increased understanding of the conflict dynamic between the disputants.

The above research and its results indicated that having different values does not mean we cannot reconcile our differences. That is, if we perceive the other person is undermining our value of fairness, it doesn’t mean that our ideas of fairness have to be the same or of the same degree to be able to resolve our differences. Similarly, it doesn’t mean the other person is necessarily unfair or intends to be, but that we hold different perspectives on fairness.

Though having disparate values may not be reconcilable, it helps to explore what our respective beliefs are in relation to the issues in dispute and discuss how and in what way(s) they feel undermined. Doing so can result in an understanding that honours our differences – rather than operating on the basis that different values (apparently) necessarily make our conflicts irreconcilable.

If you are referring (or have referred) to a dispute you are having (or had) as a ‘values conflict’, consider the following questions:

  • What are you and the other person disputing about?
  • Which value (or values) of yours do you feel is (are) being challenged?
  • What specifically is the other person saying that leads you to your answer to the previous question?
  • Which value(s) of her or his do you see as disparate from yours?
  • How do you know that is the other person’s value or values (referring to your answer to the previous question)?
  • What value or values, if any, may the two of you share?
  • What do you not understand or accept about the other person’s value(s) as it (they) pertains to your dispute?
  • What might she or he not accept or understand about your value(s) in the dispute?
  • If it isn’t necessarily a ‘values conflict’, how else may you frame it?
  • What difference, if any, does that frame make (your answer to the above question)?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
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